Kung fu Panda 3 Review

kung fu 3Get ready for a surprise!  You guys know I will always be honest with how I feel about a film.  I went into Kung fu Panda 3 with extremely low expectations.  I hated all the trailers and the character designs didn’t look great.  I liked the first one, really enjoyed the second and 3 seemed like a step back.  Well, I’m thrilled to tell you I was wrong!  Kung fu Panda 3 is not a step back. In fact, it is solidly the best of the 3 and is in the running for the best CG film Dreamworks has ever made.  Yep, you read right!  That’s how I really feel.

There are so many reasons I loved this movie.  First of all, it combined the strengths of 1 and 2 perfectly.  It had the first film’s humor and sweet message with the sequels action and authentic martial arts movie feel.  But that’s not all.  It had a good story, sweet messaging and beautiful animation.

I was so impressed with the way the film combined 2D, hybrid and CG elements seamlessly.  That has always been a part of the series but here it wasn’t just a dream sequence that was 2D, it was intermixed into the entire story which was beautiful. The colors were also bright and full of life.  Kung fu Panda 3 gets serious points just for being so great to look at.  The trailers did not do it justice at all!

The story revolves around a spirit named Kai who has a score to settle with Master Oogway from the first film.  In revenge he has conquered all of the spirits of the great masters and absorbed their chi into himself.  He finally absorbs Master Oogway and that allows him back into the human world.  Still out for revenge he seeks to take all the mortal masters including the great Dragon Warrior.

As he absorbs the characters it creates kind of a jade zombie and with each one he becomes stronger and bigger. Meanwhile, Po is learning from Master Shifu to become a teacher instead of the student.  He also meets his biological father and learns about a secret community of Pandas which is strong in chi and defeated Kai before.

There are a lot of interesting things about this story.  I particularly liked the struggles Po’s adoptive father has when he meets his biological father.  As an adoption advocate, I thought that was handled very well.  Also learning how to teach as the final step in becoming the Dragon Warrior is a very insightful plot thread for the film.

Like I said, the humor is used just enough to break up the villainy but not so much as to feel annoying or crass.  I laughed quite a bit.  The action is a lot of fun but never too drab or scary for little kids.  I think people who felt Kung fu Panda 2 was boring will like this entry much better.

The voice cast works very well with some new talent in JK Simmons, Kate Hudson, and Bryan Cranston.  I still wish to begin with they hadn’t had such modern voice talent but I prefer this cast too the dragon cast any day of the week.

The film just works.  It’s beautiful to look at.  It’s exciting, funny, sweet and I was consistently entertained.  I want to give a special congrats to director Jennifer Yuh Nelson.  There aren’t that many female directors in animation and I really admire what she has done here.

I honestly don’t have anything negative to say about the film.  Maybe I will when I watch on repeated viewings.  Like the Lego Movie, it will probably be skipped for nominations because of its early release but it is certainly worthy.  I loved it.

You’all might think I’m crazy but I don’t care:

Overall Grade- A+

Here is my youtube review:

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Kung Fu Panda 3 Details

kung fu panda 3We got new details last week on the upcoming Kung fu Panda 3 and I have to say I am not impressed.  You guys know I am not a big Dreamworks fan.  I love Prince of Egypt and think the How to Train Your Dragon movies are very good but aside from that most of their movies are too silly for my taste with the dopey humor and pop culture references.

The Kung fu Panda series is an interesting study because just this week I rewatched the first one and to be honest I didn’t think it held up very well.  I liked it ok when it first came out but now the jokes felt incredibly dated and unfunny.  The villain is bland and while it looks nice it didn’t do much for me.  The second movie I saw on a plane years ago and remember thinking it was better than the first.  At the time I thought it had a better villain, more action, less reliant on the jokes and had more fleshed out depictions of the Fierce 5.  I know that will bring much discussion on the blog but I haven’t seen it since then and I don’t LOVE it so calm down.

Last year Dreamworks had a pretty good year for me but not at the box office . I liked Mr Peabody and Sherman, Penguins of Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon 2. None of them were my favorite of the year but they were all solid.  Then I saw Home and hated that but it did very well at box office.  That and Illumination’s Minions success shows how much my taste can predict box office!.  Then they announced Kung fu Panda 3 and we got a teaser trailer I didn’t like. It looked to be going back to the typical Dreamworks silliness and lame jokes.

Anyway, then we get this news about the plot and I am even more skeptical.According to Entertainment Weekly:

“The next villain will be Kai (J.K. Simmons), a bull who is especially notable because he is the first supernatural big bad of the series. “He’s somebody that’s beyond Tai Lung, beyond Shen,” says co-director Jennifer Yuh Nelson of the new antagonist, who has large horns, leather armor, and uses two jade swords with chains attached as his go-to weapon.

Nelson says of the early stages of the film, when she and her fellow filmmakers were deciding where to take it, “and it was like ‘You can’t go brawler because Tai Lung was brawler. You can’t go smarter because Shen was smarter. Where can you go? You have to go supernatural, bigger, and even more intimidating.”

Aside from the casting of JK Simmons this sounds like a horrifically terrible idea and their logic is bizarre.  You can’t go brawler or smarter so you by necessity have to go supernatural?  In what world are those the only 3 options?  How about doing a combination of brawl and smarts making him a lethal mixture?  Or how about making him politically powerful with an army at his disposal (why has Po only faced 1 villain at a time?)?  How about make it a female bear and her sexy and a vixen to tempt Po?  I can think of about a million other types of villains they could use rather than having him be some kind of alien.

Even the design of the bull alien looks awful and like something out of a bad video game.  And like I said I was not impressed with the animation or where it was going in the teaser trailer with Po’s father being introduced to begin with. Groan…

Don’t get me wrong- it could be good.  I always go into a film with an open mind and when I like it I will say so even if everyone else hates it . However, everything I have heard or seen so far makes me incredibly skeptical of the entire project.

I even wonder how much faith Dreamworks has in Kung fu Panda 3.  January is notoriously the dumping ground for bad movies and its release date of January 29, 2016 is highly suspect.  I don’t get it. If they believed in the movie they would release it over the Christmas holiday where they could make bank right?

Anyway that’s my thought of that. What did you guys think of these new plot updates for Kung Fu Panda 3? Are you as skeptical as I am?

Kung Fu Panda 3 Trailer Review

This is just the week of the animated trailer release! Today we got the Kung Fu Panda 3.

I may be in the minority on this one but I am not a fan of this trailer.  To me it is more of the same from Dreamworks.  A bloated celebrity voice cast, lots of lame jokes and cheap sentimentality.

Kung Fu Panda was charming with a solid script if not particularly original story (Basically the Ugly Duckling meets Karate Kid).  It had just enough humor and sweetness to carry the day and I enjoyed it.

I know some on this blog disagree with me but I thought Kung Fu Panda 2 was a significant upgrade.  Not only was the animation much better (some of Dreamworks best) but it ditched a lot of the humor for a pretty cool quest story.  The villain was very creepy and I loved the way we actually got to see the Furious 5 fleshed out.  Instead of being background for Po we saw why they were legends and got to get their personalities, weaknesses and strengths.  It was pretty fun.

So after that big step up to get a retread of the first one is a major letdown.  I mean how many times have we gotten the estranged son trying to bond with his Dad scenario…so much so they made fun of it in Toy Story 2.  I always try to have an open mind and it is just a teaser but my initial response was definitely not excitement for Kung Fu Panda 3.

Dreamworks why do you hate me!